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UNITED STATES SUGAR CORPORATION TO INSTALL ELECTRONIC TIMEKEEPING

    UNITED STATES SUGAR CORPORATION TO INSTALL ELECTRONIC TIMEKEEPING
    CLEWISTON, Fla., Nov. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- United States Sugar Corporation announced today that it will install electronic timekeeping throughout its cane cutting operations.
    "Within the next several months, every cane cutter in our company will have his work hours recorded electronically," said James E. Terrill, the company's executive vice president.
    Since sugar cane harvesting began on Oct. 21, the company has been testing electronic timekeeping with cutters in one of its seven agricultural villages.  Each worker carries an identification card with a personal bar code, similar to the bar codes used to indentify products in supermarkets.  Field supervisors carry electronic scanners, about the size of a pocket calculator.  When the cutters go into the cane fields each morning, the time that they begin working is entered in the scanner.  As each cutter finishes for the day, he goes to his field supervisor and runs his card through the scanner, recording his personal quitting time.  At the end of the day, the supervisors hook their scanners into the company's computers, which transfer the data into the payroll records.
    "The devices have worked well under field conditions," said Terrill.  He added, "Electronic timekeeping has proven popular with both the cane cutters and their supervisors.  Everyone is happy that our records of the hours that cane cutters work can now be guaranteed accurate."
    Sugar growers have frequently been accused of cheating cane cutters by recording fewer hours than the cutters actually worked. The company, the U.S. Department of Labor and industry critics have hailed electronic timekeeping as an objective means of insuring that each worker's time on the job is correctly tabulated.
    Terrill said, "U.S. Sugar is the first sugar grower to commit to going company-wide with electronic timekeeping for cane cutters. This is part of our Open Harvest commitment to resolve all questions of how well and fairly we treat our workers."
    In September, U.S. Sugar declared that this year it would conduct an Open Harvest, inviting the nation's media to inspect and evaluate all aspects of its operations.  One week ago it expanded the Open Harvest by requesting a U.S. Department of Labor audit of all its H-2A labor practices.  Most cane cutters come to Florida from Jamaica under the government's H-2A program for temporary foreign workers. Company officials said they wanted the department to address every possible question of regulatory interpretation and company practices.
    In announcing its Open Harvest, U.S. Sugar said that if the media found problems in how it treated its workers, the problems would be fixed.  Recently, on another farmer's property, a car carrying contract workers ran into a canal drowning seven passengers. This tragedy has caused U.S. Sugar to reexamine its public access roads and it found that most of these roads already had guard rails along the canals.  Since 2,000 feet of U.S. Sugar's public access private roads do not have guard rails, U.S. Sugar intends to erect guard rails on those roads.  In addition, U.S. Sugar found that over three miles of Palm Beach County roads connecting to U.S.
Sugar's property do not have guard rails.   U.S. Sugar's president,


J. Nelson Fairbanks, requested that the county follow the company's lead and install guard rails on these public access roads. U.S. Sugar further offered to provide labor and installation free on the county roads if the county will provide the materials.
    U.S. Sugar Corporation is headquartered in Clewiston, Fla. It also produces citrus and vegetables.
    -0-                       11/4/91
    /CONTACT: Robert Coker of the United States Sugar Corporation, 813-983-8121/ CO:  U.S. Sugar Corporation ST:  Florida IN: SU: AW-MR -- FL009 -- 0893 11/04/91 16:28 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 4, 1991
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